Monday, December 31, 2012

Confessions of a "Classic" Preacher in a Modern World

Before you determine arrogance in the Subject title, please allow me an opportunity to explain. I have been told by some well meaning and some not-so well meaning people throughout the years that my "style" of preaching is outdated. Regardless of their respective intents, what they are basically saying is that my style is "old fashioned." Of course I am one that refuses to leave a negative a negative so I simply choose to think of it in terms of something I can relate to. All of my life I have had an affinity for Cars. Old, new, used, it really doesn't matter, I just love Cars. I especially love OLD Cars. But unlike many things that age, we usually do not call Cars "old" but rather "Antiques" or "Classics." Guess which one I chose to describe my old fashioned preaching???? LOL

Preaching to me is not a vocation. It is not a job, a performance or a chance to enhance my social status. It is not part of a "self-help" demonstration so that people might feel better about themselves for the coming week. Preaching by actual definition is to speak, "thus says the Lord." I take that very literally and attempt to comply with it explicitly. Some may even find arrogance in that but I assure you that it is a very sobering, humbling and sometimes even a frightening belief. No, I do not believe that EVERY word that I utter in a Pulpit is directly from God but I do believe that every sermon point, every thought conveyed and every heart that is quickened, (made alive) is directly from the throne of grace. The fact that God chose mere humans, such as myself, to still speak to His people is a mystery to me and I've not had a day that I have ever felt "worthy" of such an honor but I learned a long time ago that grace has nothing to do with our worth and if we will make ourselves a vessel in His Hands, He will pour through us.

There are days in preaching where everything goes just as it seemingly should. I've even had a few rare occasions where in  preaching, I waxed rather eloquently. There are also days where (not so rare) I am beating myself up before the "amen" is even said. But again the Father reminds me that if it were in any way about my ability, He probably would not have chose me. So I approach him as confidently as I can in my humanness and ask Him for the strength and ability that only comes through and from Him.

As a "vocation" preaching is a funny one to be sure. When you think you have arrived, you find that you have much to learn. When you think you will never "get it" God usually uses you in astounding ways. But then again, God's Word teaches us that He wants the broken and contrite and through such He reveals His own glory.

My preaching usually is loud, physically full of energy and direct. (what some call old-fashioned) Some Old timers call that "anointed" but I have found just as much anointing in the times when I am more quiet. If a physically spirited and loud performance is "required" then it goes more toward my ability and God will never have a part of that. Remember that true preaching is declaring "thus saith the Lord" and if we have truly heard from Him, the anointing is in that fact alone and nothing else. I've been told by many that my preaching reminds them of my "Daddy." While I smile and receive it as a compliment, (btw, I've been told by a few that I'm nothing like my Daddy LOL) that sentiment is something that I have never strove for or even desired to achieve. I do think I am like Dad in the sense that we both want the true Father to be recognized in our preaching. Sometimes I hit that mark, sometimes I fail but God loves me and uses me through it all.

So I can hear some of the skeptical saying, "Why preach that way, if this is the way you feel?" The answer is actually a simple one. Because of my Humanness. Let's put it this way for understandings sake. Let's say you live in a Kingdom and the King has given you a message that is eternal in its power and essential to life in its delivery and he has chosen you to deliver it. Would you just walk up to people in a mundane and monotone manner? Just maybe you would but I can't. I pour every bit of my heart and my soul into the delivery of the message, knowing that it does have eternal implications and I can honestly say that more time than not, when I am done, I have nothing left to give. I have poured my heart and my soul into it and if that is Old fashioned then maybe, just maybe we need more of it. Don't get me wrong. I am not helping God with my veracity. I am not increasing His anointing by the level of my voice. The fact is that it is usually frustration with my humanness and my lack of ability to convey the urgency in which He has spoken to me and on more days than not, He takes the inability and blesses it abundantly and I walk out humbled before Him.

Another reason that I am considered Old-fashioned is the insulting thinking and belief in our Society today that our attention span is generally limited to 22 minutes. I usually give my people MUCH more credit than that!! LOL No, I do not get paid by the hour either. I have some people that take great joy in timing me. Truth is that usually makes me preach longer. ;<) But I would like for you to think about it the terms of what I have written. God has delivered a message to His people through a flawed instrument of humanness and YOU have something better to do or somewhere YOU need to be, before it is over. That thinking may lend itself to the reason that I get loud???

What I am about to say will seem strange in the culture in which we live. A culture in which "Church" has become a competitive market and we are bending over backwards to appease the ears of men that are far from God just to put Butts in a pew or chair. I've even been told by a few that convicting preaching will never "draw a crowd." As a result I've seen and heard "called" Men of God basically prostitute themselves for the sake of popularity and while you may feel that is harsh, it doesn't even begin to describe the level of sickness that I feel in my spirit for it. So what is this strange thing that I am about to say? I'm glad you asked! I pray EVERY day for God to pour the values of conviction and repentance upon our Churches today. Values that will awaken us to the clarion call of the gospel. Values that will cause us to desire to hear what "thus saith the Lord" and cause nothing else to be more important. Values that will cause Men to see how far they are from God and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. True repentance will draw Men to God. It always has and it always will and that my Friends is "CLASSIC."